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The PET Scan Tick-Tock: Waiting for the News

A slow-motion ride with high-tech images.
PUBLISHED February 12, 2016
As a psychologist specializing in clinician-patient communication, Greg has worn a few hats: university professor, associate dean, foundation executive and independent consultant. Diagnosed in January 2014 with high-grade carcinoma of the head and neck, he underwent extensive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment over the next five months. He and his wife Suzanne reside in Connecticut and are profoundly grateful to all the oncology professionals, staff and survivors who treat and support them.
Better late than never
Better early than late
Better prompt than early
So I just have to wait

Time changes rhythm
It goes fast and slow
What is the verdict?
Do I want to know?

My PET scans are lengthy
They go on forever
But the long night after
Is slower than never

My mind keeps spinning
The hour gets late
The nerves, the worries
The fears aggregate
The day’s little fragments
Feeling like a flashback
Playing back the same scenes
Can’t escape the sound track
So what did they mean?
Retake that one then
Another tumor
Inside me again?

Oh, I’m sorry 'bout that
There’s one scan that’s blurry
So we'll try it again

Don’t worry ... don't worry.

Next day I find out
The scans are all clean
Due back in four months
I get past the screen

I’m elated of course
As the tensions subside
Yet the fear lingers on
In the dark, deep inside

There’s no evidence
That shows new disease
But abnormal cells
Could hide there with ease

Better late than never
Better early than late
Better prompt than early
Up ahead, the next gate

Author’s note: I have great respect for other patients, their families and clinicians, who cope with the presence or spread of cancer. I based this poem on a composite of my own personal experience thus far and nothing more. What has your experience been like?
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